I felt like I’d had an entire day’s worth of activities crammed into three hours this morning after the city tour by coach. That’s a bus in Ireland.
What I liked most about the tour is it took us by spots we already knew, like St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street, and it also showed us lots and lots of new areas. For me, I became more accustomed to the town. Places I’d heard about, saw in books or maps and wanted to go to became a semi-reality today – Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Jail, and lots of cathedrals. I hope we can hit everything in two weeks, but I’m not totally sure that will happen.
I saw student coordinator Chelsea has a planned optional activity for the jail on Saturday. My name was the first on the list. Next to it was a sign-up for a traditional Irish music pub crawl with about a dozen names already on it. I guess we know what a number of students came to Ireland for.
My favorite part of the coach tour was making the stop at the Papal Cross in Phoenix Park on the western side of the city. In 1979, Pope John Paul II addressed over a million people in this park. The cross was made to commemorate the occasion. Declan, our tour guide, if I’m spelling it correctly, told us all buses in Dublin that day went straight to the park. Even with a quarter of the Republic’s population gathered, he said no crime was reported.
The cross itself was huge. I’m not sure why it was so big or what it was made out of. But you really can’t miss it if you’re driving anywhere near the center of the park.
Despite not being a practicing Catholic anymore, stopping at the cross made me think of my family’s history. All of my grandparents are Catholic, thus both my parents are. I especially thought of my dad’s late parents, who raised six children in a strict Catholic household, lived across from a Catholic church and school, and affixed small vats of holy water outside each of the bedrooms in the house.
Sitting here in the lobby of the Ballsbridge Inn, I think about growing up Catholic myself. I remember receiving the sacraments of First Communion as a second-grader and Confirmation as an eighth-grader, and all the Saturday nights I attended mass with my parents long after my brother stopped coming. I thought of the Easter Sunday and Vigil masses we went to, along with visiting other churches in the area. For a brief – and I do mean brief – second at the cross, I even thought about returning to the Catholic Church.
That is, until I stepped in deer dung and took the Lord’s name in vain. I figured they wouldn’t want me back if I had a mouth like that.